Climbing - Great Climbing Locations

Anyone who has seen the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind is familiar with Devil's Tower in Wyoming. And, of course Mount Everest is known to people all over the world who have never been anywhere near Nepal. But expert climbers are aware of hundreds of (sometimes lesser known) locations that also offer great climbing opportunities.

El Capitan

El Capitan is one of the most popular climbing areas in the USA. This granite behemoth rises almost 3,600 feet (1,097m) above the floor of the valley and the top is almost 7,600 feet (2,317m) above sea level. Located in the famed Yosemite area in California, El Capitan provides numerous routes and spectacular views.

Climbers can reach the North American Wall and the Wall of the Early Morning Light. Some climbs take as 'little' as 24 hours, but many will offer enjoyment for as long as a week.

Fair Head, Ireland

If you should find yourself heading to the UK, you have dozens of good choices. One of the most popular for a long time, and still going strong, is Fair Head in Ireland. Huge dolerite columns rise 600 feet (183m) above sea level - and the sea is right below so you can check for yourself.

The routes are long and provide views of lakes, boglands and more on the way. There are cracks that stretch over 300 feet (100m) up the crag face, where climbers can practice their skills. With challenging weather and the delightful scenery visitors will get all they paid for and more.

Black Crag, Scotland

While you're in the UK, if you still have any rack left, head to Black Crag in Borrowdale, Scotland. A few kilometers from Keswick, this area is famed among the local climbers. Only a 20 minute walk from a parking area, you'll get plenty of exercise vertically to make up for it.

Obituary Grooves is among the options and the name shouldn't put you off. There's lots of grippy rock and the view across Derwent Water is awesome. Troutdale Pinnacle is another popular spot, but along the way there are lots of mossy covered rocks, so be sure to double rope.

Penon D'Ifach, Spain

When you're weary of the weather in the UK, head to sunny Spain. Penon D'Ifach offers climbers a large limestone mountain just waiting to be conquered. Over 1,100 feet (335m), it rises up from the east coast along the sea near the village of Calpe. Some routes are as short as 12 hours, but others may take days. Gomez-Cano is 10 pitches long!

Be sure to bring 60m ropes and plenty of rack. You'll use it. Full of inspiring overhangs, the main face is in the sun all day, so consider a helmet.

Ceuse, France

While you're in the 'neighborhood' head to the south of France. Located in the hautes section of the Alps, green hills provide great views as you work up 40 meter verticals. There are slabs, overhangs, a mix of sun and shade and numerous campsites. The compact limestone crag has plenty of bolted areas for sport climbing. Handholds range from small crimps to big jugs.

South Africa, China, Switzerland... just about anywhere you go there's great climbing. Head out!